Updated: Mon, 19 Mar 2012 21:13:56 GMT | By pa.press.net

GYMNASTICS - ARTISTIC

The sport of gymnastics is one of the few to have appeared at both the ancient and modern Olympic Games.


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A gymnast applies chalk to their hands during the artistic gymnastics. (© Press Association)

A gymnast applies chalk to their hands during the artistic gymnastics.

Gymnastics - Artistic

The sport of gymnastics is one of the few to have appeared at both the ancient and modern Olympic Games.

The word 'gymnastics' itself is actually derived from the Greek for 'naked', as early gymnasts used to perform without any clothes in ancient Greece, where the sport was regarded as the perfect display of symmetry between body and mind.

It was during the 19th century that the sport we see at the Olympics today started to take shape and five years after the formation of the Federation Internationale de Gymnastique, artistic gymnastics made its debut at the Games at Athens 1896.

The competition was only open to men until Amsterdam 1928, when women took part for the first time.

In its current format, men compete on the floor, rings, vault, pommel horse, parallel bars and horizontal bars, while the women's events consist of the vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor - with individual and team all-around events also being staged for both genders.

At the Olympics, the competition begins with a qualification round, with the best 24 gymnasts advancing to the individual all-around final and the top eight scorers in each event qualifying for the final of each individual piece of apparatus.

Competitors need to combine strength, skill, poise and rhythm to score points on each apparatus.

A panel of judges take into account not only technical execution and artistry, but also the level of difficulty of the routine, with points being deducted for mistakes.

Long considered to be one of the most popular sports on the Olympic schedule, gymnastics had its standards raised to a new level when 14-year-old Romanian Nadia Comeneci achieved a perfect score of 10.00 an incredible seven times at the Montreal 1976 Games.

Gymnasts today strive to match that level of perfection, but the era of seeing perfect 10s is long gone since the introduction of a new scoring system in 2006, which brought in a 'start value', or degree of difficulty rating.

These days, medal-winning scores tend to be in the high 15s, 16s and 17s.

(Continued)
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